group Basics of Wedding Photography – Part 2/4

Ok, so you’ve got your equipment ready, the next step is to scout out the location ahead of time and be prepared for the conditions. This post will guide you through the process.

Generate A Shot List

In the hustle and bustle of the big day, it’s going to be very easy to forget which photos you have and have not taken, so make sure you build a list of shots that you absolutely must have. Moreover, ensure that you consult with the bride and groom to make sure any important family members are included in your shot list – for example, ailing Grandpa Joe!

An example of a shot list (not in chronological order) may look like this:

  • Bride putting on make up
  • Bride & Groom in limo
  • Looking through the veil at the groom
  • Looking at the camera through a mirror
  • Full length bridal gown
  • Mother and father of the bride
  • Mother and father of the groom
  • First dance
  • and so on…

How detailed you want to be is up to your own comfort level. You will probably want to be very detailed for your first few weddings and then, after you’ve gained experience, you can make your list more high level.

Scout the location(s) beforehand

There are 4 common locations you may see as wedding photographer:

  1. The pre-wedding preparations at either the bride and/or groom’s home,
  2. The wedding ceremony at a religious hall,
  3. The reception at a banquet hall,
  4. The bride/groom and group portrait locations.

When scouting the locations focus on 2 areas: logistics and lighting.

location1 Basics of Wedding Photography – Part 2/4

Location Logistics

If the ceremony is at a church or a religious hall, call ahead and ask them about photography arrangements. Many religious buildings might restrict flash and some places might disallow photography altogether during a ceremony. These are requests you will need to respect and plan for early.

Make sure you also scout the group photo and bride & groom portrait locations. Many photographers hold these sessions in a park or another pretty location. Verify that you have any licenses you need and that you will have permission to photograph there as a commercial photographer. Being kicked out of a location because you forgot to obtain the license is embarrassing, unprofessional and will kill future business.

If you’re shooting portraits outside and you live in an area with unpredictable weather, double-check your weather reports! Have a back-up location in case you need to change venues at the last minute.


Furthermore, determine whether your equipment can sufficiently handle the lighting conditions beforehand. If you can, get inside the building with your camera and take a few photos to see what the conditions are like. Consider the following:

  • Lens speeds: Is the lighting so low that you will need to bring your fastest lenses (eg. F1.8 or F1.4)?
  • ISO settings: What ISO will you be able shoot at? Is your camera good enough to handle the ISO speeds you need to produce good quality photos that are printable?
  • Flash: is one needed, and if so, what power settings do you need to use?

Finally, ensure that you have clear directions to the event and the homes of the bride and groom (if you’re shooting pre-wedding ceremonies) – there’s no excuse for getting lost or being late!

Alright, you’re ready for the big day now! We’ll talk about how to tackle it in Part 3.

The 4 blog posts for the Basics of Wedding Photography can be found here: